I feel I earned a new set of parenting stripes over the past weekend. Minimagpie caught her first cold, and seeing her ill broke my heart into three-hundred-and-forty-seven jagged pieces. She ran a slight fever on Friday that spiked around bedtime, when, in the midst of reading a book on Mr. Magpie’s lap, she promptly fell asleep. We looked at each other with concern — what was that about?! when was the last time she nodded off during playtime?! (Never…) — and transferred her to her crib, but then I was worried about her having missed her usual bedtime bottle and debated whether or not I should wake her. I chose to let her sleep, but then I worried about not having taken her temperature before bed. Was it OK that she’d fallen asleep so promptly? Was something really wrong? What if she was running a fever of 104 and I’d just let her casually fall asleep?
You know — the usual litany of new parent concerns.
I texted my mom for reinforcement, and she assuaged my concerns, insisting that everything would be fine and urging me to monitor her fever, offer her as much fluids as she would take, and put her on a Tylenol regimen.
When mini woke an hour later, her fever had crept up to 102. Echoing my mom’s recommendations, the pediatrician I’d called earlier that day had told me that baby colds sort of need to run their course; I was to offer her Tylenol if her fever seemed to be making her uncomfortable. Mini was squirming and whimpering, so I attempted a dose, which sent her into a hysterical crying fit. I gave up halfway through and decided to feed her a portion of her bottle to calm her down before finishing the dose. Another misstep, it seems: once the second administration of Tylenol was done, she refused to take her bottle — I suppose she must have smelled or tasted the medicine on the nipple. When I crept back out of her room, I relayed what had happened to Mr. Magpie and was surprised to find myself dissolving into tears: it was heartache to see her not feeling well, and it was the first time I’d been faced with caring for an ill baby, and I had no idea what I was doing. The next several hours were like parent-baby ping pong: forty minutes of sleep for her, forty minutes of concern for me. Then, just when I’d be drifting off to sleep, she’d cough herself awake and we’d reset. I’d take her temperature and watch the number tick up; once it hit 103, I wondered if I should take her to the ER. I contemplated calling my mom, but it was 3 a.m. and determined it was borderline crazywoman territory to do so. I felt tears prick my eyes again as I snuggled my whining little love and dabbed her warm forehead with a cold compress — is there anything more pathetic than a feverish baby? As she clung to me like a baby koala, I finally brought her into bed with us, where she slept on me for a solid couple of hours. It was restless sleep for me, but it made me feel better to have her right next to me so I could attend to her within seconds.
The next 24 hours were more of the same — anxious temperature checks and hours of snuggling; she wouldn’t let us put her down. She finally slept for a long stretch on Saturday night — a generous gift that enabled us to entertain our best friends for New Year’s Eve and temporarily distract ourselves with good food and good wine — and then, once they’d left and I was bleary-eyed with exhaustion, she woke and we went through the same rigmarole.
When Sunday finally came, her fever had broken. She was cool to the touch, playful, back to her usual radiant self. I was at once relieved and entirely depleted. I’d more or less been awake for 48 hours, and the few hours of fitful sleep I’d scored were dotted through with anxiety.
There is a famous quote by Elizabeth Stone that comes to mind: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” This is always true, but over the weekend, I related to it even more intensely — I felt as though my heart was not only outside my body but sitting on tenterhooks while simultaneously being tortured in some kind of dark medieval ritual. It sounds ridiculous now: mini had a run-of-the-mill cold and she bounced back within 48 hours (though her sad little cough and snotty nose have lingered), but it was a reminder to thank God for good health when it attends us.
Products to Help with a Feverish Baby.
A couple of things that helped with the weekend:
+This forehead thermometer. My mom had urged me to buy this and I’m so glad I had it on hand. I’ll be the first to say that it is not the most accurate way to get a baby’s temperature — you’re meant to use a rectal one if you want a super clear read. But here’s my thought on that: having to strip your baby down and insert a rectal thermometer every few hours to get a clearer read is not worth it. The forehead one will give you a good enough sense of where her fever is, within about half a degree of accuracy, and that’s really all you need, in my opinion, unless you’re a nurse at a hospital or have been instructed by a doctor to take immaculate record of her temperature. The forehead one is so much easier to use on a squirming, unhappy baby, and it doesn’t require strip-downs or thermometer cleans at 2 a.m. Strongly recommend — just be prepared to take the temperature a few times and note that it will often vary within about half a degree.
+Boogie wipes. Saline spray can be tough to administer to an unhappy baby. These wipes are coated in saline (which helps unblock stuffy noses — a nurse also told me that if you’re still breastfeeding, a little bit of breastmilk in the nose can achieve the same effect! Who knew?). They were a lifesaver — you wipe the nose clean while helping to keep things moving along.
+Baby Tylenol. Duh. The package is super unhelpful in terms of dosage — it’s like: “Over 2 years, 5 mL. Under two years, no idea. Ask a doctor.” Which is not what you want to read when you’re frantically trying to administer Tylenol to a fussy baby. I found this really helpful chart online from a pediatrics group in Connecticut that I followed.
+Gerber washcloths. This sounds odd, but these washcloths have been a super clutch find. They are TINY — like 5″x5″ or something like that — which is the perfect size for wiping down a baby without dragging a whole yard of fabric through water at bath time. But they were especially handy as a cold compress — small enough to cover her forehead without dripping into her face/eyes/hair.
+Crane humidifier. These are polarizing, I find. Some parents insist they just spread bacteria around a room. Others say they registered for a humidifier but then it just collected dust for years. I am on the other extreme — I think this has been a great purchase, and I noticed a difference in mini’s congestion level the day I set this up in her room vs. the day prior. It’s also small — has a petite footprint in her petite room — but holds quite a lot of water, so it doesn’t run out for at least two days. Just be sure to clean with vinegar weekly and you’re all good on the germ front.
+Wine. For me.
+Finally, Vicks BabyRub! Vicks just came out recently with a baby-approved version of their analgesic, and it worked SO well for minimagpie. My mom suggested I rub it on the soles of her feet as well as onto her chest, and it really helped break up the cough so she could sleep better at night/during naptime. Highly recommend. My only bugaboo with it is — why don’t they make it into a rollerball applicator or something!? Such a pain to smear a tub of goop onto your wriggly baby while trying not to let her touch it/put it in her mouth, and then to — one-handed — grab a wet one to wipe of your hands, etc, etc. It’s kind of a pain to apply. But definitely worth it!
A few other minimagpie finds on my radar:
+I’ve seen so many toddlers wearing these shoes — I like them in the pastel pink!
+How darling are these dog jammies?
+Ordering a pair of these for mini for our upcoming FL vacation.
+Guys, this was easily mini’s favorite Christmas gift. You should have seen when she opened it — she started panting heavily and reaching for it as Mr. Magpie took her out of the twisty ties, and then she literally clutched it to her chest and giggled. She loves to point at the baby’s eyes, and it’s the perfect size for her right now. Obsessed. When she’s older, I’ll get her the full-size, which comes with so many precious accessories, like a mealtime set and a baby stroller!
+Finally: mamas in New York: what do you do when your baby outgrows her infant carseat? For the past 10 months, we’ve used and loved the Nuna Pipa (the lightest-weight infant seat on the market; my only gripe with it is that the sun shade can be hard to keep in place. They smartly designed it so the sunshade can be pulled down and held in place by magnets, which means there aren’t bulky clasps or clips or wire framings that weigh things down, but I feel like the magnets are either not strong enough or the sunshade is just a little too short to make it work). At any rate, mini has not outgrown it height-wise. We just made the decision to leave our car down in D.C. with Mr. Magpie’s parents — we haven’t yet decided whether to sell it, but we only used it twice while we were keeping it (ahem, paying a second rent for it) in Manhattan with us — so we’re on the fence about what to do. If we buy a full-size carseat, I want the Clek Foonf. But it feels ridiculous to buy such an expensive carseat when mini has only ridden in a car twice in the past many months — most of the time, we Subway or walk where we need to go — and I’ve since learned that you can request Ubers and other car services to send you cars with carseats pre-installed — so if we ever need to take a trip to the airport (as we will in February), we can plan ahead by arranging one of those services. And there’s also the consideration of space: do we really want to use up like 1/20th of our apartment square footage with a bulky carseat when it’s not in use? We could keep it in the basement storage unit, but it’s sort of an ordeal to get to it (those of you fellow New Yorkers who live in old buildings — it’s in a sub-basement that requires a porter to show you down, and then you walk through the Titanic boiler room and then back up a flight of stairs to get to it) — and my concern is that on the rare occasion we’d need a carseat, we’d just order an Uber with one in it anyway for simplicity’s sake. BUT THEN. (DUN DUN DUUUUUNNHH.) Any time we visit our parents or go on a trip that requires a car rental, what will we do? My current thinking is that I am going to buy one of these inexpensive travel carseats by Cosco Scenera. They’re actually highly reviewed for safety and are super lightweight — and also only $35. My thought is that we’ll just use this for trips and to have it on hand in case of emergency, but don’t need to feel guilty about a $469 carseat gathering dust in the basement.
What do you think?
P.S. I realize the title of this post was something of a double entrendre — no, I don’t really have baby fever; I was contending with the literal variety. Also, I couldn’t bear to take a picture of mini while sick, so the above snap is not of her — I found it on mah trusty friend Pinterest. But it’s very much how mini was sleeping for those brutal 48 hours!